Sec­ond cross-bor­der at­tack tun­nel found

IDF asks UNIFIL to neu­tral­ize pas­sage­ways

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF

The IDF asked UNIFIL to “neu­tral­ize” Hezbol­lah at­tack tun­nels after it an­nounced on Thurs­day that it had un­cov­ered a sec­ond un­der­ground pas­sage­way, which orig­i­nated from the south­ern Le­banese vil­lage of Ramya and ex­tended into Is­raeli ter­ri­tory.

On Thurs­day, the IDF pre­sented the United Na­tions In­terim Force in Le­banon with its first con­crete ev­i­dence of the tun­nels, while the head of UNIFIL’s mis­sion Ma­jor-Gen­eral Ste­fano Del Col vis­ited north­ern Is­rael with a tech­ni­cal team.

Ear­lier this week, Is­rael an­nounced the dis­cov­ery of the first tun­nel from the Le­banese vil­lage of Kfar Kila, and it launched Op­er­a­tion North­ern Shield to de­stroy such cross-bor­der pas­sage­ways from the Is­raeli side.

The 10,400 mem­ber UNIFIL peace­keeper force rep­re­sent­ing 41 na­tions is tasked with mon­i­tor­ing vi­o­la­tions of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701 along the bor­der, which would in­clude con­struc­tion of at­tack tun­nels.

But un­til the UNIFIL team ar­rived in Is­rael, it had no ev­i­dence that Hezbol­lah was con­struct­ing such tun­nels.

“Based on the site inspection, UNIFIL can con­firm the ex­is­tence of a tun­nel at the lo­ca­tion,” Stephane Du­jar­ric, the spokesper­son for UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, told re­porters in New York.

“Ac­cord­ingly, UNIFIL is now en­gaged with the par­ties to pur­sue ur­gent fol­low-up ac­tion. It is very im­por­tant to de­ter­mine the full pic­ture of this se­ri­ous oc­cur­rence. UNIFIL will com­mu­ni­cate its pre­lim­i­nary find­ings to the

ap­pro­pri­ate author­i­ties in Le­banon,” he added.

In the hill­tops of north­ern Is­rael, IDF North­ern Com­mand head Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik showed Del Col and his staff the tun­nel from Ramya. He showed them on a map the en­trance way to the tun­nel, which was lo­cated un­der a group of homes, and asked them to “neu­tral­ize” it and oth­ers as they un­cover them.

The IDF holds the Le­banese gov­ern­ment and UNIFIL re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the tun­nels, Strik said. Is­rael protests th­ese clear vi­o­la­tion of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701, which for­bids such ter­ri­to­rial vi­o­la­tions, Strik said.

The res­o­lu­tion sets out the cease­fire terms that ended the Sec­ond Le­banon War in 2006 and for­bids ter­ri­to­rial breach of the de­mar­ca­tion line be­tween the two coun­tries, also known as the Blue Line.

Strik said that the tun­nels were ad­di­tional proof of se­ri­ous Hezbol­lah vi­o­la­tions of Res­o­lu­tion 1701 and the ter­ror­ist group’s in­ten­tion of harm­ing Is­raeli civil­ians.

Both UNIFIL and the Le­banese gov­ern­ment have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­force Res­o­lu­tion 1701, Strik said, adding that any­one who was in the tun­nels was tak­ing their lives into their own hands.

In New York, Du­jar­ric told re­porters that the tun­nels into Is­raeli sov­er­eign ter­ri­tory were con­sid­ered a vi­o­la­tion of Res­o­lu­tion 1701.

“I think it’s a mat­ter of hu­man logic that it [Res­o­lu­tion 1701] ap­plies in the sky. We re­ported on vi­o­la­tions of airspace. And if you dig un­der­ground, that would also be a vi­o­la­tion... The ex­is­tence of a tun­nel un­der the Blue Line would be a vi­o­la­tion of the rel­e­vant res­o­lu­tions,” he said.

“And the sec­re­tary gen­eral has been very clear that the build­ing of tun­nels from one coun­try to an­other is wholly un­ac­cept­able,” Du­jar­ric added.

A re­port by Guter­res to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil about vi­o­la­tions to Res­o­lu­tion 1701, which was pub­lished ear­lier this month, did not con­tain any

in­for­ma­tion on Hezbol­lah tun­nels.

The EU’s Am­bas­sador to Is­rael Emanuele Gi­aufret also tweeted sup­port for Is­rael’s op­er­a­tion to de­stroy the tun­nels.

“Is­rael has the right to safe­guard se­cu­rity of its ci­ti­zens & ter­ri­tory. UNIFIL has key role to en­sure sta­bil­ity, need full sup­port to ful­fill its man­date 2 main­tain sta­bil­ity & pre­vent es­ca­la­tion,” he wrote.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is ex­pected to hold a meet­ing on the Hezbol­lah at­tack tun­nels, but a date has not been yet. •

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